Linux News Today: Developers Working to Get Radio FM Function Enabled in BQ Ubuntu Phones
FM Radio seems to have been forgotten as a feature on modern smartphones, but it was all the rage a decade ago. Now, developers are looking at enabling that function of Ubuntu phones that support it.
It’s been a long time since one of the selling points for a phone was the fact that it has FM Radio support. I still remember by Motorola v2288 and that I used to listen to the radio all the time. It was a handy feature, but it somehow got pushed aside, and it’s no longer being implemented in modern devices.
The kicker is that many of the new SOC solutions, like the Mediatek ones used in BQ phones, have FM Radio functionalities, but Google doesn’t provide any kind of API for Android devices. It’s basically just something that some companies could implement if they had the time or the drive to do it properly.
Radio FM on Ubuntu phones is difficult, but not impossible
Most of the things are usually difficult when it hasn’t been done before. It’s true that Radio FM functions have been available on older devices, but modern devices are not doing it, so there is little to no documentation on how to proceed.
A developer from the community is now working to get this function working on Ubuntu phones, and he’s already enlisted the help of the Ubuntu developers. As it turns out, this has been talked about before, but for now, it’s not a high priority.
Some of the Ubuntu phones, like the two BQ devices that are now available on the market, have Mediatek hardware, and they are capable for Radio FM functions, at least in theory. What’s more interesting, is that they should also be able to transmit, not only to receive.
“MediaTek (Aquaris E4.5 and E5) decided to implement custom kernel drivers with a custom character device (/dev/fm) and custom ioctl commands. There seem to be userspace libraries (libfm*) including a JNI wrapper in /system/lib of the Android container on our Ubuntu phones,” developer sturmflut wrote on the official mailing list.
The ideal situation would be to allow users to initialize and tune the FM radio on the Aquaris E4.5 and E5 devices and to link this functionality to the media hub. It will take a while, but it’s quite possible that FM Radio will be one of the numerous features that you can only find in Ubuntu phones.